Montreal·BOOKS

Looking for an escape? Here are 6 illustration books to add some colour to your weekend

This month, CBC book columnist Angus Byers has stories for you that will let you travel vicariously from beneath your duvet.

It's wintry outside...and also inside some of these beautifully illustrated books chosen by Angus Byers

As wintry weather rolls in, CBC Homerun book columnist Angus Byers's illustrated books this week include stories set in winter. (Submitted by Angus P Byers)

Every Wednesday, CBC Montreal's Homerun welcomes one of its five book columnists in studio.

Once a month, bookseller and illustrator Angus Byers shares his top picks of picture books or illustrated publications.

Here are Angus's reading recommendations this month.


The changing seasons always make me either want to go on long walks in the woods, or stay inside and read some good books from the teetering, ever-growing pile I have next to my bed.

Frankly, the books usually win.

Here are a few that allow me to travel and explore vicariously from beneath my duvet, and a Hanukkah story for good measure.

The Snowy Nap, by Jan Brett

(Submitted by Angus P Byers)

Young Hedgie the hedgehog is making his last trundle across the farm as the winter snows are about to descend. All the animals tease him with tales about why they're excited for the winter fun he will miss while hibernating, enticing him to try and stay awake.

Brett's minutely detailed illustrations revel in the minutiae, leaving no hair unpainted, no snowflake forgot. It's a joy to dive into each picture, even the borders of each page painted with a bonus tale, surrounded in a yarn fame. (Un)simply gorgeous.

Robert Bateman; The Boy Who Painted Nature, by Margriet Ruurs, illustrated by Robert Bateman

(Submitted by Angus P Byers)

A picture book biography of the seminal Canadian wildlife painter, from his first encounters with tadpoles to his globe-spanning research trips. Sure to inspire the reader to look at life a little closer.

Growing up in the 1980's, prints and coffee table books of Bateman's work were a fixture at every house I went to, and every waiting room too. It's easy to see why: his expansive scenes rife with narrative details and deep atmosphere. This is ideal for either the young scientist or budding artist in any home.

Thirty Minutes Over Oregon, by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

(Submitted by Angus P Byers)

In 1942, Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita dropped two bombs outside a small town in Oregon, failing to start the forest fires the mission called for. Twenty years later, he was invited back , and what followed was a true tale of how forgiveness can save what war tries to destroy; humanity.

A brilliantly succinct history lesson, this will open up large avenues of discussion on why we still feel the need fight wars. Yet, it still pulls enough punches for the younger readers. Highly recommended for the classroom or the home.

The Lost Words, but Robert MacFarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris

(Submitted by Angus P Byers)

A lexicon of nature words, each done as acrostic poetry. From adders and acorns, to willows and wrens, this oversized picture book disguises it's lessons as art.

Each word is given several pages, starting with abstract word searches to gold leaf accented watercolour painting. The more you look in this book, the more you find.

Coming Home, by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Kerry Hyndman

(Submitted by Angus P Byers)

A robin makes his way from Scandinavia to England during his winter migration. Daring fierce weather, a shrewd hawk and the North Atlantic, he is kept aloft by his determination to see his mate.

Just in time for the winter, this picture book combines an adventure story with science fact. Morpurgo never disappoints, and Hyndman's clean painting style keeps the action moving without getting muddled.

Meet the Latkes, written and illustrated by Alan Silberberg

(Submitted by Angus P Byers)

The Latke family are celebrating the first night of Hanukkah! Grandpa Latke tells a tale of how the miracle began to be celebrated, except his version has giant bees, alien potato tyrants and a Trojan dreidel. Luckily, Applesauce the dog is there to set the story straight.

Silberberg's comedy stylings are on point, his bold cartoon style rendering all of Grandpa's misunderstanding of the holiday to outrageous effect. The Maccabees reimagined as MEGA BEES is just hilarious.

About the Author

Angus P Byers

CBC Homerun Book Columnist

Angus P Byers is a bookseller at Livres Babar Books, an illustrator and a tattoo artist. You can find him on Instagram @angustattoos. You can also hear Angus on Homerun, on CBC Radio One (88.5 FM), once a month on Wednesday afternoons starting at 3 p.m.

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